London student possesses another’s body

ExorcistYifei Chai, a student at the Imperial College London, has worked out how to use virtual reality and 3D modelling hardware to “possess” another person.

Chai’s method does not involve vomit or turning heads, or even an invocation to the Prince of Darkness. One person wears a headmounted, twin-angle camera and attaches electrical stimulators to their body. Meanwhile, another person wears an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset streaming footage from their friend’s camera/view.

A Microsoft Kinect 3D sensor tracks the Rift wearer’s body. Chai’s system then shocks the appropriate muscles to force the possessed person to lift or lower their arms.

The person wearing the Rift looks down and sees another body, a body that moves when they move—giving the illusion of possessing another’s body.

It is all a bit rough at the moment. Watching the video there is a noticeable delay between action and reaction, which lessens the illusion’s effectiveness.

You can only control 34 arm and shoulder muscles and Chai’s thinks that he can improve it with high-definition versions of the Oculus Rift and Kinect to detect subtler movements.

One thing he thinks the idea might be used for is to encourage empathy by literally putting us in someone else’s shoes. A care worker, for example, might be less apt to become frustrated with a patient after experiencing their challenges first-hand.